Jack Eichel makes a play on the ice Sunday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Robin Lehner says comments weren’t directed at specific players

BUFFALO – No teammate, Sabres goalie Robin Lehner said, was singled out during his passionate postgame chat following Sunday’s disappointing 4-2 loss to Vancouver.

“We all, starting with myself, got to take more responsibility,” Lehner said this morning inside KeyBank Center. “It’s not certain lines, it’s not certain people.”

Still, some of Lehner’s words Sunday – “Let’s do another deke, let’s do another play … let’s do the fancy thing,” he said – seemed to be directed toward the team’s talented youngsters, perhaps Jack Eichel, whose miscue around the net led to a Canucks goal.

Not so, Lehner said.

“People can assume whatever they want,” he said today. “It’s not what I said yesterday. I didn’t name anyone. … It’s about all of us as a team. It’s about doing the small things. It’s about me making an extra save.

“It’s about Jack is our best player, end of story. When he’s going, we’re all going. When he’s not going, we got to have other guys going.”

Eichel, it appears, heard Lehner’s comments.

“We got to stop blaming each other, blaming whatever we’re blaming,” Eichel said today. “Just come to the rink everyday and enjoy the fact that you play in the NHL. For me, I think I’m more than past getting worked up about it. I’m not going to change last night’s outcome with my attitude today.”

He added: “If you’re not happy with who you are, change it, go make a difference. I think that’s it.”

Is there finger-pointing among the Sabres?

“It’s not finger-pointing,” Eichel said. “It’s maybe we’re looking at some outside things that are the reason we’re not getting the result we want. At the end of the day, we’re the guys that go on the ice every night and play the game. We win as a team, we lose as a team. I think that’s important for all of us to get in our mindset.”

Clearly, frustration boiled over Sunday for the wildly inconsistent Sabres, who could’ve crept within three points of a playoff spot with a victory after Saturday’s 3-1 win in Toronto.

Lehner said Sunday the Sabres’ inability to follow the game plan was “disrespectful” to the coaches.

Based on comments today and throughout the season, some players appear frustrated by the team’s system and the constraints it puts on them.

Eichel said the Sabres seemed to sit back after going up 3-0 early Saturday.

“We’re almost afraid to push against them and try to score the fourth goal,” he said. “We’re almost too nervous to play in the offensive zone, make passes. We’re just sitting back and letting them come back.

“For me, whether it’s minute one or minute 60, I’m going to play the same exact way. I think a lot can go on over obviously the course of a season, the ups and downs in your mind and mentally and physically. I just try to stick to the same routine every and same game plan. We’re all in the NHL for a reason. We built our identity at a younger age. We do something very well, and that’s why we play in the NHL.

“Whatever that is, just try to bring that to the rink everyday, and for me – I don’t want to speak for anyone else – I’m a guy that needs to produce offensively. I need to play a 200-foot game, whether it’s in our own zone or setting someone up for scoring a goal. That’s (what) I’m looked at for. I’m a creative player. I take risks trying to make plays, and that’s how I’ve always been.”

Eichel said “there’s definitely areas of my game I need to clean up.”

“I need to get better in my own zone,” he said. “I need to be more responsible, maybe my timing coming out of our zone. There’s obviously areas of the game I can get better at, but it’s a work in progress with our whole team, and I’m the same way. I can’t look at someone else to try to make themselves better if I’m not trying to make myself better.”

Check back later for MUCH more. The Sabres play Tuesday in Ottawa.

In injury news, Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian, out with a mid-body injury, skated today. Coach Dan Bylsma said if Bogosian reacts well, he could return in the near future. He wasn’t sure if Bogosian would accompany the Sabres to Ottawa.

Bylsma also said center Zemgus Girgensons (mid-body) won’t travel and will be evaluated Wednesday. Meanwhile, winger William Carrier (bone bruise) has been mostly resting and is “not better or worse.”

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